World’s Largest Float Copper
Quincy Mine Claims, Houghton, Michigan, USA
Collector’s Edge Minerals Inc., based in Golden, Colorado, USA and its owner and founder, Mr. Bryan Lees, are honored to display the World’s Largest Float Copper specimen at the 4th Chenzhou, Hunan, China Gem and Mineral Show! When Mr. Lees first viewed this fabulous specimen of natural copper, he was impressed at how the shape of the copper was so similar to the nation of China. Mr. Lees has a long relationship with the Chinese mineral collecting community and he knew this would be a special opportunity to organize this world record specimen to be displayed at the 4th Chenzhou Mineral and Gem Show.
This specimen of float copper was discovered in 1997 on the Quincy Mine claims near Hancock, Northern Michigan by the two land holders, Mr. Rudy Kastelic and Mr. James Meneguzzo, while searching their property with a metal detector. As they scoured the forest for metal, they detected a signal indicating a large metal object was buried under their feet. As excavations progressed over the following days, the float copper was finally exposed. It was approximately 14 feet long and 12 feet wide, with thickness up to 17 inches!
In later years, the copper “nugget” was moved from the Quincy Mine claims to the Presque Isle Park in Marquette, Michigan.
The weight of the float copper is estimated at [26.6 tons, or 53,100 pounds (24,085kgs)]. Copper nuggets from the upper Michigan Peninsula generally have a copper purity of 90% to 97%. So, using a purity of only 90% copper by weight, the copper specimen has a current conservative metal value estimate of $101,000! However, this float copper has been declared the world’s largest float copper specimen currently known and it is incredible that it has remained an intact specimen and not been cut and melted into copper wire!
Geologists estimate that the metallic copper formed more than one billion years ago. At that time the earth was still forming crustal land masses and massive amounts of basalt was extruding from the mantle and spreading over large areas of what is now the Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota region.
Over several hundred million years, the basalt flows subsided into rift structures that eventually created the Great lakes between the United States and Canada. During this period, hydrothermal fluids rich in copper, silver and other mineral forming ions, were pushed up from deep in the mantle and filled the gas holes that existed in the original basalt flows. Temperature and pressure conditions changed in the trapped fluids and allowed the copper held in solution to form solid copper metal inside the open voids.
Over the following eons of time, ice ages occurred in the northern hemisphere and the ice advances and withdrawals removed thousands of feet of covering sediments from on top of the buried basalt flows. Approximately 12,000 years ago, the last great ice sheet covering North America melted back to the north and dropped from its icy clutches the earth, rocks and large formations of copper nuggets the ice had scraped from the surface. The action of glacial scraping and polishing, as the ice moved the copper nugget across the surface is visible on the float copper. Many of these nuggets remained exposed on the surface of the land, but the larger, pure metal copper masses were usually buried under layers of sand, silt and other debris left by the retreating glaciers. For the area of Northern Michigan, these earth formation processes created and then exposed not only the copper nuggets found on or near the surface, but also valuable deposits of copper that were to be discovered and mined during the past few hundred years.
Nuggets of float copper were often found and used by early inhabitants of the northern Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota regions. Copper implements have been found in prehistoric grave sites, excavated in the northern Michigan and Wisconsin areas, dating back to 3000 B.C. Items such as copper spear points, ax heads, knife blades, and decorative ornaments are common in many of the burial sites. Analyses have shown that these early copper implements were “cold-worked” into spear points, arrow heads and other objects, indicating the copper must have come from native copper masses found on the surface. Ancient Indian gravesites of more recent periods, during the past two thousand years, show a progression of working the copper tools and cooking implements from cold hammering of the native copper to eventually using a smelting process to form elaborate copper vessels.
Early non-Indian settlers to the Northern Michigan region in the early 1800’s learned of large masses of float copper from local Indian tribes. Knowledge of easily accessible native copper on the surface drew more and more prospectors to the region looking for copper nuggets and eventually to claiming land to begin larger scale working of underground copper deposits. The late 1800’s and early 1900’s saw a “copper boom” period of exploration, mining and processing of the copper deposits of Northern Michigan. Almost all surface copper nuggets found during this period were sent to the smelters and melted to produce pure copper metal. By the 1960’s the Northern Michigan copper mines were largely exhausted of economical ore and suspended operations.
In 1996, Messrs. Rudy Kastelic and James Meneguzzo, gained control of forty acres of surface and mineral rights of the Quincy Mine claims. As stated earlier, in 1997 they discovered the large float copper nugget. At that time, they knew they had found something very unusual but had no idea it might be the world’s largest float copper in existence!
Hearing of the discovery at the Quincy Mine property, Mr. Fred Rydholm, then president of AAPS/Ancient Artifact Preservation Society, learned that Kastelic and Meneguzzo wanted to try to preserve the copper nugget. Mr. Rydholm obtained Board approval from the AAPS to arrange a deal to buy and preserve the float copper. Rydholm was able to negotiate a deal to buy the copper from Kastelic and Meneguzzo, but the contract had a period of 4 years in which Rydholm (and the AAPS) must raise the funds to keep the copper and preserve it as an important cultural artifact for Northern Michigan. If the money was not received by the end of the four year period, the copper would be returned to Kastelic and Meneguzzo for possible sale as “scrap” copper and be smelted for sale!
Rydholm proceeded to organize the relocation of the copper nugget from the Quincy Mine property to the Presque Isle Park in Marquette, Michigan, where it would be on view for the public. During the move, the nugget was weighed and the estimated weight was found to be 28.2 tons, or 56,400 pounds! According to published news articles, the Smithsonian Institution said the Quincy Mine float copper is the largest piece of glacial float copper they have ever recorded!
Unfortunately for AAPS, as the years passed to 2012 and then on to 2015, Mr. Rydholm passed away and the AAPS was unable to raise the required funds to acquire the copper for permanent display at Presque Isle Park. The owners of the Quincy Mine took back possession of the float copper and, in early 2016, concluded sale of the world’s largest float copper to Mr. Bryan Lees of Collector’s Edge Minerals Inc., in Golden Colorado. After viewing the copper specimen, Mr. Lees knew it would be greatly appreciated by the Chinese public. He was well aware of the fondness of Chinese collectors to acquire and display large mineral formations such as petrified wood, cave formations and carved jade.
The Collector’s Edge team organized for the transportation of the copper nugget from Houghton, Michigan to the main office in Golden, Colorado. The team members prepared the specimen for further shipment from the USA to the exhibition hall in Chenzhou, Hunan, China.
The voyage of the World’s Largest Float Copper specimen ventured over 12,000 kilometers and required three months of travel over land and sea. Collector’s Edge representative in China, Mr. Graham Sutton, organized to receive the specimen in Chenzhou and set up the display at the entrance to the pavilion hall for the Chenzhou Mineral and Gem Show.
Mr. Bryan Lees, as founder and President of Collector’s Edge Minerals Inc. has conducted mineral specimen mining, preparation and sales around the world for more than 30 years. During the past 15 years, he has been instrumental in cultivating in China a mineral collecting culture for fine crystallized mineral specimens. He organized the first large scale mineral specimen exposition in Beijing, China from May to August, 2010. He regularly attends the annual gem and mineral shows for sale of fine mineral specimens organized in Shanghai, Chenzhou and Hong Kong China. Mr. Lees knows that Chinese collectors appreciate large and unusual mineral specimens and he decided that displaying the float copper at the 2016 Chenzhou mineral show would be a special honor for both Collector’s Edge Minerals and for the Chinese people!